There are a lot of words that may seem new and weird throughout college applications, so here is a list of words that I defined in order to help you glide through the application process!
The Basics: Treat Yo Self! (and know the facts!)
1. Undergraduate: An undergraduate student is someone who is obtaining an undergraduate education or degree, such as a Bachelor’s degree.
2. Private University: A Private University is a college that is privately funded. They tend to be smaller than public universities as well.
3. Public University: A Public University is a college that is publicly funded, specifically through the national government. They tend to be larger than private universities.
4. Safety School: When applying to colleges, a safety school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is lower than your stats, which indicates that it may be easier for you to get in (since you have higher stats than the average).
5. Target School: A target school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is similar to your stats, which indicates that you are the same level as other applicants.
6. Reach School: A reach school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is higher than your stats, indicating that it is a more competitive college.
7. College Confidential: A website full of threads and information about college admissions. Although some of the pages found on College Confidential are helpful, there are some things found on this site that may discourage you for no apparent reason, such as “Chance Me” threads. Therefore, I advise you to steer clear of College Confidential and, by all means, do not let it get to your head!
8. “Chance Me’s”: “Chance Me” are threads found online where people write their stats and ask for others to see if they can get accepted to a specific college. I advise you NOT to trust these things, as people online do not know your chances of getting into a specific school.
9. Common App: Also known as the Common Application, the Common App is an application used for undergraduate admissions to a multitude of colleges. A majority of colleges accept the Common App, but I suggest looking in on the ones you want to apply to in order to know for sure.
10. Universal College Application: Similar to the Common App, the Universal College Application is also a site used by many people to send their college applications.
11. SAT II’s: Also known as SAT Subject Tests, the SAT II’s are exams that are taken in specific subject areas, such as Biology, Math I/II, and US History. Many colleges do not require SAT Subject Tests. However, it is important to check and see if some colleges require you to take an SAT Subject Test, or if it is optional. Although it may be optional for the college, it is still your decision if you would like to take this exam or not for admission purposes.
12. Transcript: A report of all the grades you have received in each class that you have taken during high school. Colleges require an official transcript to be sent to the admissions office.
13. Recommendation Letter: A letter that details why you are an excellent fit in said college. These letters usually come from teachers, faculty, coaches, mentors, etc. Recommendation letters should NOT be written by a family member.
14. Personal Statement: A Personal Statement is basically a college essay. Many colleges require you to write at least one, while others require more than one essay.
15. Need Blind Admissions: Need-Blind Admissions is when colleges will decide on your admissions decision without looking at your financial information. To clarify, this means that the college will decide on your admissions decision solely on your application and not on your financial information.
16. Waitlisted: Waitlisted is sort of the middle ground for colleges. When you are waitlisted, it does not mean that you are accepted or rejected. Instead, it means that you are put on a “waiting list” and, if the colleges enrollment numbers from their accepted students are lower than expected, they will accept more people from the waitlist.
17. Deferred: Deferred is when a college pushes your application to the next filing period. This means that you have not been accepted or rejected yet. Instead, the college has pushed your application in order to review it again and make a final decision. A deferral only happens if you have applied Early Action or Early Decision.
18. Legacy (Applicant): A legacy applicant is someone who is applying to a college that a family member has went to, usually their parents.
Types of Applications (it’s “ED” as one, two, three! Get it!?)
1. ED/Early Decision: A type of application filing period where you are able to apply early, but it is binding. This means that if you are accepted to said college under Early Decision, you are required to go there upon acceptance. Usually, the application deadline is in November and admission decisions are in Mid-December. Something to note about this is that you can apply to only one school with an “Early Decision” (since it is binding), but you can apply to other schools with a different filing period, such as Early Action and Regular Decision.
2. EA/Early Action: A type of application filing period where you are able to apply early, but it is not binding. This means that you are applying earlier than the normal application period and you will NOT be required to go to said college upon acceptance. Similar to ED, Early Action’s deadline is around November, but the admissions decision’s date varies. Unlike the Early Decision, you can apply to as many Early Action’s as you want (unless Single Choice Early Action, more on that below)
3. Single Choice/Restrictive Early Action: This is a type of application filing period where you are only allowed to apply to one Early Action school. However, this means that Single Choice/Restrictive Early Action is still non-binding (not required to go upon acceptance), but you can only apply to one school under Early Action. Similar to ED, you are able to apply to colleges under other types of filing periods, such as Regular Decision.
4. RD/Regular Decision: This is the normal time when applications are due. Regular Decision is the time when most people apply to colleges. The applications are usually due in January and results typically come out in March (although, it may vary depending on the college). Regular Decisions are non-binding and you can apply to as many as you want.
5. Rolling Admissions: This is a type of application filing period when you apply to a college and the college admissions office reviews them as they receive the applications. Unlike ED/EA/RD, Rolling Admissions does not have a set date where you can go and look for your college admissions decision. Typically, the college will give you a time frame in which they will give you your admission decision, which is possibly around 2-8 weeks depending on the college. Something to note is that a lot of colleges with Rolling Admissions may not have a distinct deadline for the application, but they will have a “priority deadline” where, if you submit your application before that date, then they will get back to you sooner. Overall, the earlier you submit your application for Rolling Admissions, the quicker you will know your decision.
6. Open Admission: This is a type of application filing where colleges accept all students, as long as they have completed high school or have a GED.
Financial Aid: Dolla Dolla Bills Y'All!
1. Grant: A grant is money that you receive in your financial aid packet that you will NOT have to pay back.
2. Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back.
3. Scholarships: A scholarship is money earned due to certain achievements, such as academic, athletic, etc. Similar to a grant, it is money given to you that you do not need to pay back. However, for a scholarship, it may be awarded by the college or awarded separately by applying for one.
4. FAFSA: Also known as the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, the FAFSA is a website that most colleges will advise you to use in order to receive financial aid from colleges. The FAFSA application will ask for information on your household’s tax forms in order to determine how much grant and loan money you may receive. The FAFSA application opens on January 1st of every year, but deadlines for completing the application varies for every college. Something to note is that you will need to apply for Financial Aid every year in order to receive aid while you are in college.
5. CSS Profile: Also known as the “College Scholarship Service Profile”, the CSS Profile is found on the College Board website where you apply in order to receive more financial aid. Many colleges require the CSS Profile (and sometimes early on), so I advise you to see if it is required.
6. Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is a number found on your FAFSA that provides an estimate of the amount of money your family will be expected to pay for your education. To note, this estimate is the amount of money you will be expected to pay after financial aid is accounted for.
7. Institutional Grant: An institutional grant is money given by the college that you do not have to pay back. This is different compared to the federal grant, since the federal grant is provided by the government instead of the college itself.
8. Merit-Based Grants: These are grants that are made due to academic achievement.
9. Need-Based Grants: These grants are given to students due to their level of income.
10. Federal Pell Grant: This grant is money that the federal government gives you that you will NOT pay back.
11. Institutional Loans: An institutional loan is money given by the college that you have to pay back. This is different than the federal loans, since the federal loans are provided by the government instead of the college itself.
12. Direct Subsidized Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back to the college. The Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan that pays the loan’s interest while you are in college. However, once your undergraduate education is completed, you will be required to start paying the Direct Subsidized Loan (Note: this loan allows a six month grace period before you starting paying).
13. Direct Unsubsidized Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back to the college. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a federal loan that does not pay the loan’s interest while you are in college. This means that, as you continue through college, you are responsible for paying the loan’s interest. However, if you decide you don’t want to pay the loan’s interest while in college, then the interest will be added to the principal (or the original loan’s amount).
14. Perkins Loan: The Perkins Loan is given to students depending on their school, as some schools do not participate in the Perkins Loan. Similar to all loans, it is money borrowed now that must be paid back later. However, unlike the other loans stated here, this loan is a college issued loan instead of a federal loan, meaning that the money is paid back to the college not the government.
15. (Parent) PLUS Loan: A PLUS Loan is a loan taken out on the parents name for an undergraduate student. This means that parents with undergraduate students may use this money for college expenses. PLUS Loans are to be paid back to the federal government.
16. Work Study Program: The Work Study Program is one in which a student may hold a job on campus while earning their degree/education. You can apply for the Work Study Program through the FAFSA application. The money you earn from this job can be used on anything, from tuition to food, etc.
You’re In College! Now what… (Everything you need to know while in college)
1. Major: A specific area that an undergraduate student focuses on during college. The student must follow and complete the courses stated in their specified major in order to receive their degree.
2. Minor: Although it is not required, some undergraduate students choose a minor in order to have a secondary focus. If you choose to minor, you do not receive another degree. Instead, minoring in something during college is solely for your own personal interest and to expand your knowledge.
3. Double Major: When you double major in something it means that you are following two specified areas. Double Majors receive two degrees for the areas in which they studied.
4. Undeclared: To be undeclared in college is to not choose a major/degree. Many people go into college undeclared, while some are even undeclared up until their second year of college. However, depending on your college, there may be a specific time or deadline to declare a major, since you will eventually be required to have one in order to obtain a degree.
5. Placement Test: A placement test is a preliminary test in order to see what level you are in specific subjects. These are normally taken when you have selected a college to attend (as an entering college freshman) and must register for classes. Also, something to note, all colleges do not have placement tests.
6. Bursar Office: The Bursar Office is the branch of the college that takes care of payments and billing statements for the student.
7. Financial Aid Office: The Financial Aid Office is the branch of the college that takes care of the financial aid aspect for the student, such as determining grant money.
8. Registrar: The Registrar Office is where they handle student records and scheduling for the college.
9. Commuting/Commuter: A commuter is a student who travels to college from where they reside. This is a longer distance than the typical five minutes off campus.
10. Transfer Student: A transfer student is someone who is changing from one college to another. Most people who change colleges decide once they know that their credits will transfer to the next college.